Book Background: John

Written by Heather Zempel | March 29, 2010 | John 1 - 3

By John Hasler

The book of John is the fourth of the Gospels, which begin the New Testament of the Bible.  John, the apostle, is credited with the authorship of this book.  Over the years, there has been some debate as to when this book was written.  The most agreed upon date however, is that it was composed in the late first century (AD 80-100)
John, unlike the other three ‘Synoptic’ Gospels, differs in some of its sourcing.  It is proposed that Matthew, Mark and Luke all relied upon one another as well as another common source for information.  However, it is concluded that John did not incorporate this source and it is also unclear on whether or not he had access to the Synoptic Gospels.  This is due to the fact that he does not include many of the stories that the other three share.  Of course it is possible that he did have access to the Synoptic Gospels and merely chose not to incorporate much of that material.

John is also very unique in its style and content.  It begins in a poetic like fashion with verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  This differs from the way the other Gospels start and sets out to prove from the very beginning that the whole story is about Jesus, and that this Jesus was there from the beginning of the universe.  From this point on and all throughout the book, John continues on to develop the character of Jesus, as not only Messiah, but also God.  Furthermore, there is a clear goal laid out for the intention of the writing of this book found in chapter 20:31: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Other well-known and documented parts of John are the references to him as the disciple ‘whom Jesus loved,” the focus on light and darkness (also reflected later in his Epistles), and of course John 3:16.  This Gospel is also often referred to as the ‘spiritual’ or ‘theological’ Gospel, and because of the way that it consistently points to God and encourages belief in Him; it is a helpful place for seekers and skeptics to start reading the Bible.

We will read the book of John and use much of its content as a part of our upcoming “Miracles” series.